Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Carillion - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:52 pm on 15th January 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 4:52 pm, 15th January 2018

I am grateful to both noble Lords for their interventions, and of course I understand the anxiety shared, I think, on all sides of the House, about the future for the employees and for those in receipt of the services provided by Carillion. To put it into perspective, if one looks at the current live contracts held by Carillion, roughly one-third were let before 2010, roughly one-third were let between 2010 and 2015, and roughly one-third were let between 2015 and now.

On the point about taxpayers’ money being at risk, as a matter of principle, money is transferred from the Government to contractors in return for work that has been undertaken. Looking ahead at the money we are going to pay for services, it would have been paid to Carillion for the relevant services, and obviously it will now be paid through the official receiver. The Government will look to the official receiver to sell off, if that is his decision, those profitable operations to get some resources in.

Reference was made to the statutory obligations of the receiver to look at the conduct of the company. I understand that the Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs in another place has already announced that it will make an inquiry. The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee may also take an interest in this—that is a response to the point made by the spokesman for the Opposition as to how the Government will be held to account; there is a variety of means by which that can happen.

On contingency plans, before Christmas the Government made local authorities, academy trusts and others aware of the financial problems confronting Carillion and advised them to put in place contingency arrangements. From what I have heard so far today, most of the contingency arrangements are working satisfactorily—although, as I said, there may continue to be some difficulties.

As regards the loss, obviously the shareholders have been wiped out and the banks advanced substantial sums of money to Carillion, so the primary losers here will be, as I said, the shareholders, the banks, and any others who have lent money to Carillion.

On pay and conditions, I understand that for the time being they remain the same; the official receiver will continue to pay and employ them. There is a distinction to be made at some point between those carrying out public sector work and those doing private sector work for Carillion—a point raised by the spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. On contracts held by Carillion not with the Government but with private sector companies, I understand that the official receiver is allowing a period of up to two days for those companies to decide whether they want to take over the contracts. So far as the public sector contracts are concerned, as I said, the Government’s top priority is continuity of service. The official receiver will continue to make resources available to fund the public services.

The noble Lord asked about terms and conditions. I am very reluctant to give an off-the-cuff reply about whether TUPE and similar things will apply, and I hope that he will understand if I take advice on that rather than try to answer it.

On the pension fund, I think that there are 14 schemes under the Carillion umbrella, some of which may be in surplus and others of which are not. The Pension Protection Fund will carry out an assessment. If the schemes are not viable, they will be taken in-house by the PPF, together with the assets of the scheme. Those already receiving their pension will continue to get it. Those who are yet to retire will get, I think, 90% of their entitlement, subject to a cap of somewhere around £35,000.

On the supply chain, it is important that the subcontractors continue to turn up. The official receiver has the necessary resources to continue to pay them.

On the question of apprenticeships, I understand that the CITB, the Construction Industry Training Board, is aware of the issue and will try to find other companies to take on those apprentices who have been displaced by Carillion or the subcontractors, and indeed those who are hoping to take up employment with them.

I think that I have answered most of the questions that I am able to. I am conscious that I have not answered all of them but my right honourable friend will keep the House of Commons updated on developments as the official receiver starts to go about his work, and I am sure that that applies to your Lordships’ House as well.